Gli Etruschi



Relief showing a blacksmith’s workshop, Aquileia Museo Archeologico

The workshops of the craftsmen, bustling with productive and trading activities, lined the streets and alleys of the cities. Terracotta recipients and vases of all shapes and sizes, inspired by Greek taste, bronze objects and tools, refined jewels made of gold and other precious metals, were all made in the workshops. These products were bought on the spot or shipped for sale to far-off peoples. The craftsmen working in the Etruscan cities included, in addition to local inhabitants, people belonging to other populations, especially Italics and Greeks whose skills were highly appreciated. In the largest workshops there were also specialized slaves; many mass-produced objects have in fact been found which suggest that production was organized almost on a proto-industrial level. The most typical ceramics of the vast Etruscan production was the bucchero ware. These vases were characterized by the shiny black colour of their surface, due to the techniques of production and firing.

In the most ancient period, the production of bucchero ware, typical of the city of Caere, was characterized in particular by the fine walls of the vases. Subsequently, alongside the fine bucchero ware came the heavy bucchero ware, with thick walls and relief or applied decorations. Mirrors, found in hundreds in the necropolises, deserve particular attention for the exquisiteness of their workmanship. The commonest model of mirror was round with a handle. The back of the bronze surface was engraved or worked in relief, usually with mythological subjects from Greek art, or it was covered with inscriptions.

The production of gold jewellery and objects, in which the Etruscans showed a high degree of technical elaboration, capable of exploiting the expressive possibilities of the metal, was extremely rich and deservedly famous. The most flourishing period was between the mid-7th century and the end of the 6th century BC, in Vetulonia and Vulci. The taste for the excessive and emphatic effects also triumphed in jewellery, both in the use of ornamental, floral, figurative and geometric motives, and in the use of various techniques of workmanship, often combined together. These techniques included engraving, repoussage, fusion, filigree and, above all, granulation, which consisted of applying tiny grains of gold soldered to one another to the surface of the metal, thus multiplying the effect of the play of the light.

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